It is always great to hear when a local tourist attraction reopens to the public. Some of these small, local attractions foster a sense of local pride and nostalgia. The decision to close the caves in 2004 was met with local outrage. A petition began almost immediately to reverse the decision. Despite this, Thanet council closed the site and concreted over the entrance. The petition to reopen the site has never gone away. Finally, a cash boost of £422,000 means Margate Caves reopens to the public soon – much to the delight of local campaign groups.
Margate Caves Reopens Thanks to Campaigners
This is not the first nod to the importance of the site. Recently, campaigners secured £40,000 from the Homes & Communities Agency. They used this money for the planning stage and legal costs. A further £56,000 secured as a development grant made the project more and more likely. Now, this bumper £422,000 grant means Margate Caves reopens with a cash injection and much local excitement. We understand use of the caves is both community use and school field trips for educational purposes. With a proud coastal geology, the new education centre will help children understand the importance of the sea to Margate’s history.
Community groups across Thanet will receive some of the cash and anyone wishing to start a new group may apply for funding. That may not be the end of the lottery funding though. The £422,000 came from the Big Lottery Fund. Organisers have also been advised to apply for a Heritage Lottery Fund for 2017. The history of Margate Caves is unclear, but they were discovered in 1798. The caves are clearly artificial. Experts say smugglers used what was once a chalk mine (perhaps Saxon) and expanded them. When opened to the public in 1863, they became an instant hit for seaside visitors.